Thin Places

By Erika Rae


There is a crack underneath my fireplace, where the intake vent meets the hardwood floor. It is too small for most things, but perhaps large enough for a mouse to squeeze through if it is very determined. Tonight, however, something about this crack gets to me. Makes me dizzy. Above, the glow from the fireplace hot on my face; below the crack leading to the depths within my house. Leading perhaps down to the foundation. Maybe beyond.

I wonder what could be down there. Large rodents, maybe. Nick Belardes’ Mothman, probably. I stare at the crack half expecting long, dark fingers to flit through and make a quick probe. Nudge a dust bunny or two on their way to my soul. On their way to finger other thin places in my life.

The sad state of my bank account.

The unpublished books sitting on my bookcase.

The condition of my closet.

How I think my eyebrows would look like Susan Boyle’s, left unchecked.

Like most of the thin places in my life, I am not overly concerned–except for those moments when I am left alone in the dark to ruminate. Moments like these. En momentos así.

Like that time in junior high when I demanded to know why a certain boy was in the girls’ bathroom—only to find out from his own lips that he…was a she.

Like that time I attempted to steal a Coca-Cola bottle and got busted by an angry, French shopkeeper.

Like that time I lied to a friend about something I shouldn’t have.

Like that time I lied to a friend…

These thin places live in parts of me where I don’t have to confront them much. They fit neatly around the curves of my organs where they don’t bother me unless perhaps I lie on them the wrong way or eat something funny. I occasionally mistake them for indigestion or the start of a cold. Medication sometimes helps.

The problem with thin places is that, like all small fissures, there is great potential for the smallest earthquake to break them wide open into something bigger. Something wide and gaping. Something for which the word “maw” could be used. Because of this it sometimes becomes necessary to seek out relatively calm ground—ground which is not prone to bumps and jolts. Avoid amusement park rides and flashing red lights.

Some thin places involve things I didn’t do – but rather things that were done to me, intentionally or otherwise.

The turning away of friends.

Harsh, unjustified words of family in the heat of the moment.

The death of my father.

These types of involuntary fractures wear closer to the surface where I can examine them with more frequency. They exist as a testament to the times I’ve been wronged, and are for some reason easier to face than the times where I’ve done wrong. I can pull them out as a neat distraction from the self-inflicted splits in my being. These are the cracks I feed. The doting on pain cracks. The snacking on cracker cracks. The self-righteous cracks. Not like the other cracks.

But still…cracks.

The orange dance of the flames distracts me and I find myself falling deeper inward, just as I catch a glimpse of those long, Giacometti fingers feeling their way across the floor toward my wool covered toes.

Perhaps a glass of wine would help.

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ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

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